See All Cell Phones

Samsung Jitterbug J SPH-A310

*Est. $65, no contract
Reviewed
August 2009
by ConsumerSearch

A no-nonsense phone for technophobes

Pros
  • Large, easy-to-read display
  • Simple menus
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Add-on services, including roadside assistance
Cons
  • Minimal features
  • Mediocre call quality and reception
  • Volume control poorly placed
  • Calling plans can get expensive

Still easy to use with a few new features

The Jitterbug J is the third Jitterbug phone developed in concert with Samsung, following the Jitterbug Dial and One-Touch. The original Jitterbugs were marketed to technically disinclined seniors, while the J is meant to appeal to anyone in search of a no-frills cell phone. The J comes in a black or white clamshell design with oversized keypad buttons and is available directly through Great Call.

The Jitterbug J gets only passing attention from reviewers. Critics who do give it a look like the bright, 2-inch display's simple layout and large font, and they say the user interface is very easy to use. Menu options are phrased as questions, and there are clearly marked "yes" and "no" buttons on the handset. The phone even has a dial tone, helpful for cell phone newbies. However, the volume control is on the outside of the shell, which critics find awkward to use, especially when the phone is in use. Reviews say the keypad is large and tactile, and there is a voice-command option for dialing as well. Dialing 0 connects you to an operator who can help you make calls.

The J offers a few extras not found on earlier Jitterbug models. There's a speakerphone option, which is described by testers as adequate, and the phone has Bluetooth and texting capabilities. The texting menu allows users to pick from a list of convenient, preprogrammed text messages if they so choose. However, there is no automatic word-completion functionality, which can make long messages a pain to write. Texting costs 10 cents to send and receive, and there is no bulk texting plan available. Talk time is rated at just three hours, but PCMag.com's Sascha Segan gets more than four hours in his tests, which he says is "okay but not great" for this type of phone.

How much does it cost?

Jitterbug (a subsidiary of GreatCall) doesn't have its own network; instead, the company piggybacks on Sprint, Verizon and some regional networks to provide coverage. This means that reception isn't always ideal, and some areas may not be covered well, if at all. CNET finds reception "spotty," while PCMag.com says call quality is "muddy." Buyers would do well to double-check coverage zones before investing in a Jitterbug J. In addition, Jitterbug's rates aren't as competitive as those of national carriers, and extras such as a 24-hour medical assistance line cost a few dollars more each per month. There's also an initial $35 set-up fee in addition to the hefty price of the handset. The company offers both monthly plans (*Est. $15 per month and up) and prepaid options (*Est. 5 cents to 35 cents per minute), and you can add up to five phones (*Est. $15 per month each) on one account.

Only CNET and PCMag.com review the Jitterbug J's features and performance in depth. Some otherwise reliable sources for cell phone reviews, such as Laptop Magazine and MobileBurn.com, provide only brief overviews of the Jitterbug J, though their conclusions are still useful. We found a few other short articles at The Miami Herald and TechnoTalks.com, but no user reviews.

Our Sources

1. CNET

Nicole Lee says the Jitterbug J is "incredibly easy to use," and praises its bright screen, as well as its big keypad buttons and font size. She points out that calling plans can get expensive and says texting can be tedious without automatic word completion.

Review: Samsung Jitterbug J (gray), Nicole Lee, June 2, 2009

2. PCMag.com

PCMag.com's Sascha Segan calls the Samsung Jitterbug J one of the best no-nonsense cell phones on the market. Aside from the oddly placed volume controls, he likes the design. However, Segan criticizes the cost of the phone and its relatively high fees, and he says the J's call quality is "muddy," while reception can be "wobbly."

Review: Samsung Jitterbug J SPH-A310 (GreatCall), Sascha Segan, June 1, 2009

3. Laptop Magazine

This blog-style review for Laptop Magazine is the only one we found that discusses the Jitterbug J's customer service. In it, reviewer Todd Haselton describes calling the operator and getting a number added to his phone without any hassle. He praises the Jitterbug J's call quality and says the receiver is comfortable to use. His main critique is that the phone's calling rates are not economical in the long run.

Review: Hands-on with the New Jitterbug J phone, Todd Haselton, June 1, 2009

4. Miami Herald

Bridget Carey provides a succinct review of the Jitterbug J, with pros and cons clearly weighed. She likes the way phone functions are simplified, such as the "yes" and "no" buttons that apply to every onscreen option, and the optional canned text messages. However, she says the volume controls are awkward, which could pose a problem for older users. Carey concludes that the Jitterbug is the simplest phone marketed toward seniors, though not the cheapest.

Review: 60 Second Review -- Jitterbug J Cellphone, Bridget Carey, June 29, 2009

5. Mobileburn.com

This snapshot review of the Jitterbug J at MobileBurn.com points out the features that have been updated since the original Jitterbug. Reviewer Brian James Kirk says the J has a sleeker design, with a few more perks, such as Bluetooth and call waiting. Battery life is also mentioned as having improved, although no details are provided.

Review: Jitterbug J, Brian James Kirk, Apr. 17, 2009

6. TechnoTalks.com

TechnoTalks.com provides a short discussion of the Samsung Jitterbug J, noting that it has slightly more features -- such as Bluetooth and text messaging -- than its bare-bones predecessor. The Jitterbug J is described as comfortable to hold, while the screen is vibrant and bright. However, customization is limited to changing the color of borders on the menus.

Review: Samsung Jitterbug J reviews, Editors of TechnoTalks.com, July 13, 2009

Back to top